US Open braces for tense climax as early entrants have mixed fortunes in Brooklyn

The good, the bad and the ugly were on display as Brooklyn looked poised for the tense climax of the 122nd US Open.

Team leaders Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris prepared to continue their fight for the first major title, the first starters showed what they were capable of in the final round.

Good golf came primarily from Italy’s Guido Milozzi, who covered the top nine in ’31 thanks to an eagle, three birds and a single scarecrow.

Poor golf was due to a number of causes, including two-time US Open winner Brooks Kepka, who made two birdies, as well as two scarecrows and two double scarecrows, to crash out in 39th and slide to nine over par.

And the ugliness was courtesy of American Grayson Murray, who hurled his stick into the fescue grass after ruining seventh place and then flicked his stick on his knee after a failed run to 10th.

At the other end of the leaderboard, Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris tied the lead for four under par, a step ahead of defending champion John Rahm, who briefly held the lead to a double bogey at 18th in the third round.

Zalatoris lost the playoffs to Justin Thomas at the PGA US Championship in the South Hills last month, where Fitzpatrick advanced to the final group in the final round alongside Mito Pereira.

A final 73 meant Fitzpatrick missed the playoffs by two shots, but all week the 27-year-old Englishman has been buoyed by memories of his 2013 U.S. Amateur championship win in Brooklyn.

“I guess it wasn’t until the Southern Hills that I really realized how difficult it really is to win a major,” Fitzpatrick said after his third round of 68.

“I didn’t really challenge until then. I think, including myself, and people from the outside, perhaps they think that this is easier than it really is.

“You just have to look at Tiger (Woods). He shot down so many in such a short amount of time. That’s why I think people think, oh it’s a piece of cake, it’s like a normal tour. But it’s not.


Matt Fitzpatrick watches his shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the US Open. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

“It brings a lot more of a psychological aspect to the game than other regular competitions and I think it was a big change for me from the US PGA when I came here on a golf course that I know so well and it gave me extra confidence. “.

All three previous US Opens held in Brooklyn have ended in the playoffs, and tournament officials have mentioned two of them on the last two holes.

The 17th pin position was typical of that used in the final round in 1913, when local amateur Francis Ouimet made a critical birdie en route to victory.

And 18th was in the same position as in the final round in 1988 when Curtis Strange saved par from the green bunker to force a playoff against Nick Faldo.

Strange won the 18-hole playoff by four shots and successfully defended his title the following year.